Value sensitive design

Value sensitive design (VSD) is a theoretically grounded approach to the design of technology that accounts for human values in a principled and comprehensive manner.[1] VSD addresses design issues within the fields of information systems design and human-computer interaction by emphasizing the ethical values of direct and indirect stakeholders. It was developed by Batya Friedman and Peter Kahn at the University of Washington starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This approach takes human values into account in a well defined matter throughout the whole process.[2] Designs are developed using a tripartite investigation consisting of three phases: conceptual, empirical and technological.[3] These investigations are intended to be iterative, allowing the designer to modify the design continuously.

Privacy by Design is an example of VSD that is concerned with respecting the privacy of end users of (IT) systems.

Design process

VSD uses an iterative design process that involves three types of investigations: conceptual, empirical and technical. Conceptual investigations aim at understanding and articulating the various stakeholders of the technology, as well as their values and any values conflicts that might arise for these stakeholders through the use of the technology. Empirical investigations are qualitative or quantitative design research studies used to inform the designers' understanding of the users' values, needs, and practices. Technical investigations can involve either analysis of how people use related technologies, or the design of systems to support values identified in the conceptual and empirical investigations.[4]

See also


  1. Himma, Kenneth Einar; Tavani, Herman T. (2008). The Handbook of Information and Computer Ethics (PDF). John Wiley & Sons Inc. ISBN 978-0-471-79959-7. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  4. Friedman, B., Kahn Jr, P. H., Borning, A., & Kahn, P. H. (2006). Value Sensitive Design and information systems. Human-Computer Interaction and Management Information Systems: Foundations. ME Sharpe, New York, 348–372.
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